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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Warumpi Band, Sydney Opera House

1984 (printed 2021)
Juno Gemes

inkjet print on paper (image: 45 cm x 30.5 cm, sheet: 49 cm x 34.5 cm)

The Warumpi Band burst onto the Australian music scene in 1984 with the release of their first album Big Name, No Blankets. Formed in 1980 in Papunya, 260km west of Alice Springs, by George Rrurrambu Burarrwanga, Sammy Butcher, Gordon Butcher and Neil Murray, the Warumpi Band became known for their bluesy rock and for singing in both English and First Nations languages, their music having strong social and political themes. After spending its early years touring regional and remote communities and stations in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, the Warumpi Band supported Midnight Oil on tours throughout Australia, helping to cement them and their music in the Australian pub rock lexicon. While still a member of the Warumpi Band, Murray wrote and released the song ‘My Island Home’, about his bandmate Rrurrambu’s love for his country Elcho Island. The song became a hit in the 1990s when covered by Christine Anu, who sang it in English.

There is some cheekiness in the Warumpi Band as they relax outside a tent on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in 1986. The sails of the iconic Opera House peak above the three musicians, who appear ready to take the stage and perform at a rehearsal for the First Nations Concert. The Warumpi Band had been touring nationally and internationally at the time this portrait was taken by Juno Gemes, and were in high demand.

Purchased 2021
© Juno Gemes/Copyright Agency, 2021

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Juno Gemes (age 40 in 1984)

Warumpi Band

George Rrurrambu Burarrwanga (age 27 in 1984)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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